There are many supporters who have been brought up on the game of football, knowing only the era of the Premier League, success, celebrity players and big bucks. To many, heart, soul and history come secondary to the expectation of perfect performances, what trophies we should win and ignore, and the disaster of having the odd season where we just miss out on a piece of silverware.
However, those of you who know that United existed before 1993 will remember that times back then weren’t always as easy or good as they are today. Trophies were few and far between, but the support was incredible. And one of the stark contrasts between then and now, was that the lads grafting out there on the pitch were as down to earth, humble and proud of United, as you and me.
With that in mind, Red Flag Flying High were delighted when former United star of the 80’s and England full-back John Gidman, agreed to talk candidly to us in a quick fire, 60 second interview about his time at Old Trafford:
Steve Crabtree: You were Ron Atkinson’s first signing for United from Everton in 1981. How did you find out you were on your way to Manchester, and what were your thoughts?
John Gidman: I was in Los Angeles when I heard from Ron Atkinson who told me he wanted to sign me. It was United. I was over the moon!
SC: What was Ron Atkinson like to work for?
JG: Atko was brilliant. He was a brilliant man-manager.
SC: You played in 118 games for the reds between 1981 and 1986. What games and moments stand out for you in that time?
JG: All the games were special, but it has to be the FA Cup final with Everton, in 1985.
SC: Norman Whiteside won the cup for United in 1985 – but you stopped a pretty certain Everton goal by clearing the ball off the line in normal time, which would surely have been their winner.
JG: It’s all part of defending. I was just in the right place right time.
SC: The team were renowned for liking a pint or three back in the 80s – Were you one of them or did you ever join them? Any stories?
JG: Yes I was. But back then all players loved a beer and yes…we did have a few! I loved all the guys and we had great times.
SC: Who was your best or closest friend at United?
JG: That’ll be Robbo. I spent 5 years rooming with him on away trips.
SC: We’ve recently seen Roberto Mancini and Mario Ballotelli fighting in training at City. Did you ever witness anything like that at The Cliff?
JG: [Slight pause] Er……that’s a Secret!!!
SC: You were a well liked and respected right back, known for your composure and positional sense but surprisingly only earned one England cap. Who was your competition for that England number 2 jersey?
JG: It was Phil Neal. He was the main full-back back then. But that’s life.
SC: You spent the majority of your career with Aston Villa. Do you consider them to be YOUR team?
JG: Well, I love and respect all the clubs I played for, but Villa were the ones who gave me the break we all need.
SC: Which United players do you most admire in Alex Ferguson’s side?
JG: Easy. Got to be Rooney
SC: Do you ever get back to Old Trafford for any games, or meet up with the United Old Boys Association?
JG: I’ve not been back to Old Trafford in 20 years! I’d love to go back if I was asked.
SC: And finally – when you were at Old Trafford…who was longest in the shower?!
JG: Atko……ha ha – that’s joke!!! He won’t like that, he was 1/2 and inch from being a woman!
You can follow former red John Gidman on Twitter: @giddy1212 – and if you’re from the Birmingham area, you might want to check out his “Three Amigo’s” show, where he’ll be appearing with Brian Little and Peter Withe at Sacred Heart Club, in Grange Road, Aston, on Thursday, February 21, from 7.30pm.
Tickets, including a Spanish buffet, are priced £15 and available from Ian Seddon at email@example.com
Follow me on Twitter: @stevecrab